Card Networks Postpone New Merchant Fees Until July 2020

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, postponed new interchange rates and fees originally scheduled to take effect in April, 2020 until at least July 17, 2020 due to Covid-19 Coronavirus. The announcements provide some relief to battered and closed businesses. Every Spring most networks tweak their fees.

American Express will delay the changes to their assessment fee and their Inbound Fee (International) until October 2020. TSYS will delay the PULSE annual fee increase ($4.00 increase to current $12.00 fee) until July 2020. The NYCE annual fee will be billed at the new rate of $16.00 in August to all applicable merchants.

Other card network fees were relatively minor. It’s noteworthy that many continue to be penalties related to authorization compliance, for example, fees for not performing authorization reversals.

Phone vs text express checkout: Covid-19 customer pick up solutions

Businesses are changing the way they interact with customers to reduce both employee and customer exposure due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis. Accepting payment over the phone and delivering to cars is growing. However, there are risks and costs associated with this that can be avoided. A combination of text, chat, and artificial intelligence can dramatically improve customer engagement and satisfaction while driving down costs and increasing revenue. We put this all together with express pay checkout for a ready-to-go solution to transform operational efficiency and drive profitability virtually overnight.

FAST HELP NOW: Stop taking cards over the phone and start getting paid remotely with a one-way text or email. You’ll use the platform to send a simple request for payment or you can optionally upload an invoice. I just fixed your Covid-19 pay over the phone problem to instantly save you time and money, while improving security.

MANPOWER PROBLEMS: Working with fewer employees, whether to save money due to declining sales resulting from Covid-19 economics, or to adjust for family needs and illness, can lead to customer service issues. Longer hold times leads to even more phone calls, messages and emails as customers desperately search for answers. Takeaway: Studies show a 48% decrease in customer care costs with our recommended automation solutions. It takes just a few seconds to change customer status to ‘ready for pick up’, generating an automated text that will collect payment. That’s way faster than getting card data over the phone.

CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FEES: If your business traditionally accepts cards in person, then the merchant account is set up for RETAIL. When the acquirer does not receive EMV or swipe card data, the transaction is downgraded to the worst rate possible. Timing couldn’t be worse with new higher rates imminent. Small Business credit transactions failing to qualify for Custom Payment Service (CPS) will be assessed the Non-Qualified interchange rate of 3.15% + $0.20 effective April 18, 2020. That’s cost plus there are other fees on top of that. Regulated debit will still be .05% regardless of payment acceptance method. The Fix: Our recommended solution improves credit card rate qualification; merchants can qualify for lower rate using our express checkout vs over the phone, and fraud liability for ” it wasn’t me, I didn’t authorize” shifts to the issuer.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: As time goes on, people holed up at home are bound to get more anxious and testy. Nobody likes giving their card number over the phone so now you’ve got an unhappy customer regardless of what you do. They’re on their phones texting all day, and calling to sit on hold with you is annoying. Employees often resort to using their own phone devices with no oversight, creating potential liability problems. The Fix: Converse with them the way they want and customer satisfaction is proven to soar. Use a cloud platform from any device so all data is secure and compliance is managed automatically. Our recommended solution ensures texting compliance and creates on-demand searchable records. Additionally, the one click yes or no end of service satisfaction survey enables management to instantly identify problems and address them accordingly.

HOW IT WORKS FOR MANAGEMENT OVERVIEW: Add users, assign users to roles, modify existing automated message templates (or make new ones), set up hours of business, set up alerts; users can login via computer, tablet or phone app. Add a promotion and one question survey if desired. Let the automation begin!

SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE: The last thing I’d want any business to do is have employees taking card data over the phone and then key enter it into something else. There are too many things that could go wrong. One mistake and a data breach or disgruntled employee could put you out of business. The Fix: Our recommended solutions remove employee access from cardholder data and customer self-checkout is proven to be far more secure. Compliance with the latest credit card processing rules is automated. This is not the case with all remote payment solutions, many of which have not kept up with the onslaught of new card processing rules (not the same as PCI compliance), especially for storing and using stored cards. I don’t care how big they are or how recognizable their name is, many solutions are not compliant today.

DRIVE THROUGH PICK UP: A parent pays for their kids car repair. A friend wants to pick up a pet for their elderly neighbor. No problem. During checkout, your customer can designate things like a pick up time, name of pick-up person, and even add details about the car that will be picking up.

BEST USE CASES: Veterinarians, car service, truck service, anything where something is dropped off and then needs to be picked up later. Animal hospitals can deliver instructions, photos, results etc and reduce or even eliminate phone time. Restaurants may have specialized software that meets needs so I would look there first. We focus on businesses with sales are over $1M annually.

FAQ: Can I use my same merchant account? Yes. Do you offer low cost merchant accounts? Yes, submit your statements for a comparison. How do you reduce my fees if I keep the same merchant account? Proprietary patented technology dynamically optimizes every transaction to mitigate risk and qualify for the lowest fees. What payment types are supported? Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, ACH/echeck and more. Is it HIPAA compliant? Yes. What if my customer insists on paying in person? No problem. Just mark as paid when they come in. How long does it take to get set up? Usually one business day turnaround once we receive your paperwork, though it can vary. How easy is it to use? We like both our users and customers to have an ‘Apple-like’ experience; just login an go; self-serve and assisted remote training is available. How much does it cost? We have two price plans depending on your business type. Most customers are more profitable using our system so any fees are entirely offset by credit card fee savings, labor savings, and increased revenues. How long is the contract? Month to month; if you don’t like it, just cancel. We’ve never had a customer say they didn’t like it and cancel.

GET STARTED: Christine Speedy, 954-942-0483. For a fast, free checkup on your merchant account or to implement our express checkout system, contact us today.

Covid-19 disruption will bankrupt some businesses

Sad but true. Covid-19 will drive some businesses into bankruptcy. That could never happen to 3D Merchant Services. My father raised me to avoid debt, save a lot, and work hard. I realize not everyone has the same circumstances and a lot of people will be financially hurt. I can help by reducing fees, making operations more efficient, and accelerating receivables payments.

My standard merchant services offer is wholesale pricing, passing through all costs plus a small mark up. Many customers negotiate a great deal, but pay extra fees for a variety of reasons. The most common problem? Transaction does not meet the criteria needed to qualify for the optimal interchange rate, thus they pay a penalty rate and extra fees. I fix that.

There are a lot of companies and individuals that promise to reduce fees and sometimes they do. However, I’ve never spoken to a single salesperson in this industry, outside of my associates, that knows as much as I do about the merchant and transaction rules and authorization management. As a result, their customers are never fully optimized to maximize profits. For example, I’ve had sales agents contact me about business card level 2 rate qualification. Why would you help them get level 2 and not level 3?

Even the companies that specialize in reducing fees only help with a piece of the puzzle, leaving businesses to seek out another solution in another year or two. For example, companies that take credit cards over the phone for non-retail sales, are wasting time; why would you have your high paid office manager get the credit card over the phone instead of just pushing out the invoice with click to pay or empowering customers to self-store cards and or use an online pay page. Properly done, it’s far more secure than manual handling by employees. Additionally, it can be cheaper interchange rates for self-pay vs phone order.

Avoid all the noise! Contact 3D Merchant Services for a merchant account checkup!

All the best, Christine.

PCI Security Standards Council Extension of PCI PTS POI v3 Devices

PCI Security Standards Council Bulletin: Extension of Expiration of the Approval of PCI PTS POI v3 Devices, March 10, 2020.

Due to supply-chain disruptions related to the coronavirus, the PCI Council has extended the expiration date of PIN Transaction Security Point-of-Interaction (PTS POI) v3 devices from 30 April 2020 to 30 April 2021.

For those countries and entities not impacted by the coronavirus, we strongly encourage the deployment and use of next generation solutions such as devices approved to PTS POI v4 or v5 and migrating to POI v6 devices when the standard is released later this year.

On advisement from our industry stakeholders, the Council has determined the preventive controls to stop the spread of the coronavirus will impact previously planned rollouts of POI v3 devices. While recognizing that earlier versions of POI devices may be less robust in withstanding certain of the latest generations of attacks, we do not believe that this limited one-year extension of the approval expiry date for POI v3 devices will materially impact that risk.

The PCI SSC advises merchants, financial institutions, vendors and other users of PTS POI v3 devices, specifically v3 PEDs (PIN entry devices), non-PEDs, EPPs (encrypting PIN pads), UPTs (unattended payment terminal), and SCRs (Secure Card Readers) to contact their device vendors regarding the availability of more recently approved models to use as replacements and in new deployments. Effective 30 April 2021, the affected devices will be removed from the approved POI devices list on the PCI SSC website and listed separately here

3 Things Accountants Must Advise B2B Clients in 2020

Credit card processing may be a big part of the revenue stream or a small part. It doesn’t matter. B2B companies all suffer from the same issues that impact EBITDA and risk. Compliance, cost and security. It’s fair to say, most businesses have no idea what the hot buttons or repercussions are.

Three things every B2B company needs to know about credit card processing right now:

  1. If you store credit cards, you must be compliant with Visa Stored Credential Framework. I posted this in 2017. Guess what? Most payment gateways (if you accept payments online from an invoice or any other source, a payment gateway is involved) are still not compliant! There are significant financial and risk consequences for non-compliance, including penalty fees, fines, and issuer generated chargebacks.
  2. Failure to settle transactions with a proper authorization will be even more expensive starting in April 2020. For example, many Visa credit card rates will go to 3.15%, reflecting upwards of 0.75% increase in some cases; that’s strictly interchange fees, nothing more. Instead of assuming you’re already settling properly, go to your merchant statement and look for DATA RATE I (instead of Data Rate III), STD/Standard, and EIRF. Do you have any of these? See also https://3dmerchant.com/blog/merchant-processing-services/credit-card-transaction-fees-checkup
  3. It’s a Visa rules violation to request the card security code on a paper credit card authorization form, or any digital form where the business can decrypt and view it. It can’t be stored, period. Not by the merchant nor service provider, including payment gateway. Yet even the AICPA

Why these 3 things? Because 100% of B2B companies I talk to will fail on at least one, and usually two or three. That includes CPA firms. Among the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants missions is to provide “the most relevant knowledge, resources” etc. Yet as of this writing, AICPA affinity credit card processing partners include a long list of technology solutions that are not compliant with all three of the above.

86% of all data breaches in 2016 were from level 4 merchants, defined as “Any merchant processing fewer than 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions per year, and all other merchants — regardless of acceptance channel — processing up to 1M Visa transactions per year.” By complying with the three items on my list, B2B companies will harden their systems and increase profits. The latter occurs because compliance with rules reduces fees. 

If your current acquirer could truly fix all the problems above, why haven’t they taken the initiative to help you in the past? By the way, if someone ever says they help you qualify for level 2 rates, run! All B2B companies should have the right technology to qualify for level 3 rates. Why pay more?

Christine Speedy, 954-942-0483. For a fast, free checkup on your merchant account, contact us today for a secure, cloud-based solution optimizing acceptance for all payment types across multiple channels without disrupting banking relationships.